Aaron Ramsey scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season and Mathieu Flamini added the other as Arsenal beat Cardiff City 3-0 to record their 15th win in their last 17 away games. The win takes the Gunners seven points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Arsenal proved far too slick a side for Cardiff and dominated possession from start to finish. Arsene Wenger's team were just too professional an obstacle for Malky Mackay's side and they made light work of the match.
Mesut Ozil contributed two assists and Ramsey put in yet another man of the match performance.
Cardiff came out with a defensively minded set up and rarely threatened Wojciech Szczesny in the Arsenal goal.
This was the first time Arsenal had faced Cardiff in league competition since 1962, and it was the first time Ramsey returned to his home club since 2009. On that occasion, Cardiff's fans roundly booed Ramsey's every touch.
Today it was a different story as the Welshman dominated the game to such an extent that Cardiff's fans actually applauded his play. Ramsey has been on a hot streak since the start of the season and has scored 15 goals from 25 games in all competitions.
Ramsey and Mikel Arteta linked well in central midfield, but the key partnerships for the Gunners involved Ramsey with Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil. The Welshman was imperious in the center and had an almost telepathic relationship with Wilshere on the right and Ozil just behind Olivier Giroud.
Flamini scored late on, after he was introduced for the ineffectual Santi Cazorla. Ramsey played his part, yet again, and threaded a pass to Ozil who teed up Flamini on the edge of the box. He duly hit the back of the net.
Ramsey then put the icing on the cake by adding his second goal as the match wound down.
Cardiff, for their part, proved completely unadventurous and seemed set on trying to nick a goal from a set piece. In the second half they became more ambitious, especially after the introduction of Peter Odemwengie for Frazier Campbell. As usual they were difficult to break down with Gary Medel, once again, being their best player in midfield. Had they started with Campbell and Odemwengie they might have given the imperious Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny a more difficult game.
Here, Bleacher Report offers six things we learned from Cardiff City vs. Arsenal...
Aaron Ramsey may have began his career at home with Cardiff City, but his heart is firmly at Arsenal now.
Ramsey started playing for the Bluebirds when he was eight-years-old and made his debut as a mere 16-year-old in April 2007. Rambo, to his many fans, joined the Gunners in the summer of 2008 for a cut-price £4.8 million, according to South Wales Online.
It's fair to say that he would cost at least 10 times that amount today.
In 2009, Arsenal played Cardiff in the FA Cup with the Welsh team's fans booing the youngster's every touch. Arsene Wenger eventually took the then 19-year-old off because he felt he was unable to cope with the pressure of the situation. Wenger told the Daily Star:
The first time he went back to Cardiff in the cup tie he was not comfortable with the situation - it was too much for him.
He wanted to do so well that he missed a lot of passes at Cardiff. Now he is much more experienced. At Swansea, yes, (the boos inspired him).
The first time it affected him, now he takes that in a more positive way.
It's also fair to say that he has coped with far tougher situations and incidents since. His exemplary recovery from a career-threatening injury immediately springs to mind from a plethora of examples both on and off the pitch.
Today he scored his 12th goal of the season with another exceptional strike. His intelligent run evaded the attentions of Andrew Taylor and he headed home Mesut Ozil's looping cross with ease. He then added his 13th in the dying minutes to rubber stamp his domination of the game.
He covered every single inch of the pitch and he really is becoming the glue that holds Arsenal together.
Gary Alexis Medel Soto, or just Gary Medel to his fans, has enjoyed a great start to his career at Cardiff City. The tough-tackling 26-year-old has been the Bluebirds' best player in the early part of the season and has made center-midfield his domain.
He was lucky to play against Arsenal today after escaping a ban for slapping Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini in Cardiff's recent 2-2 draw with the defending champions, as per the Telegraph. That did not deter the Chilean international from putting in another good performance today.
He confronted Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta in the all-important high ground of central midfield and made the Gunners' duo work extremely hard.
Medel is the only midfielder of international class at Cardiff and, having proved himself in La Liga with Sevilla and in the Premier League with the Bluebirds, it would be no surprise to see him play at a bigger side next season.
Nacho Monreal only made it into the Arsenal team to play against Olympique Marseille because Kieran Gibbs was taken ill at the very last moment.
The Spanish international was in many ways dropped straight into a pressure cauldron and had to produce a performance in what was his first start of the season. Monreal was exceptional among a number of top-class performers. He linked up superbly with the hard-working Tomas Rosicky on the left and could deem himself unlucky not to start against Cardiff City.
Going into the game, Arsene Wenger would have been more than aware that Cardiff initiate 44 percent of their attacks down Gibbs' flank, according to WhoScored. He would have schooled the 24-year-old accordingly.
It says much of Gibbs' growth as a player over the last year that Wenger had no problem putting him straight back into the team following an illness. Gibbs has become ultra important in the way Arsenal are set up and he offers a balance on the left-side of the field that the Gunners have not had in almost 10 years.
Gibbs did not disappoint and put in another solid performance. He is ever-reliable and as the World Cup approaches he is fast becoming a viable option for Roy Hodgson at left-back.
In truth, Monreal is well behind Gibbs in the pecking order for the best left back at the Emirates, but as a deputy you could not ask for a better man.
Malky Mackay is one of the best young managers in the English game. The Scot has built a hard-working, tightly-knit side that have proved difficult to break down this season.
The Bluebirds may have lost eight matches in all competitions this season, but Cardiff have excelled in matches against the top sides. They famously beat Manchester City 3-2, drew with Everton 0-0, were unlucky to lose to Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 and drew recently with Manchester United 2-2.
Against Arsenal today they, once again, worked hard and proved difficult to break down until the latter stages of the game.
Vincent Tan, Cardiff's owner, has a manager at the helm who is most definitely going places and while his philosophy may be different than the likes of Roberto Martinez at Everton and Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, he is no lesser a manager and has the potential to take charge of a top side one day.
All Tan has to do is to recognize the excellence he has at hand and not be tempted by a manager in greener pastures.
That might be easier said than done after sobering days like today, but if Tan backs Mackay he will be rewarded.
Aaron Ramsey, quite rightly, is the first name on Arsene Wenger's mind regarding center-midfield.
There is no doubt that Jack Wilshere will eventually graduate towards a regular berth in central midfield but for the moment the 21-year-old will have to make do with playing an offensive role in midfield.
This season Wilshere has played in every position across midfield. Somewhat ironically, his best performances have come from his deployment on the right side of Wenger's 4-2-3-1 formation. The English international has developed a rapid partnership with Bacary Sagna on the right.
Wilshere's style and lack of pace over longer distances has meshed perfectly with Sagna. The Frenchman overlaps at every opportunity and Wilshere, as a natural central midfielder, immediately drops deeper to cover the vacant spaces left by the Frenchman. This does not happen with the likes of Theo Walcott or Tomas Rosicky.
Wilshere also naturally moves inside onto his left foot where he is more comfortable. This also creates space for Sagna to exploit and when Ramsey or Arteta pick up the ball they immediately look for the forward runs on the right.
Today was by no means his best game this season for the Gunners and he did, at times, look lost. That, however, was down to how Cardiff set up to turn the game into a midfield battle. Wilshere, therefore, did not receive the support he should have.
As the season progresses Theo Walcott will be the natural option for his most natural position. However, Walcott does not offer the same defensive mindset that Wilshere does.
As Wilshere returns to 100 percent match fitness and confidence in one's body, remember it took Ramsey over 80 matches to return and bypass his pre-injury levels, the Gunners could do far worse than continue to play the star on the right.
Shane Long has, for a long time, been recognized as one of the hardest-working strikers in the Premier League. The Irish international works tirelessly across the line for West Bromwich Albion. He causes real physical trouble through his strength and pace no matter whom he plays against.
Earlier this season, he was offered to Steve Bruce at Hull City but turned the transfer down. The Tipperary-born forward is out of contract at the end of this season according to Transfermarkt. It is more than understandable to believe that he would be reluctant to sign a new deal with the Baggies considering what happened in the summer.
There is no question that Arsenal badly needs a good back-up to Oliver Giroud.
Long would be available for as little as £5 million in January and he would most definitely be a better option than the likes of Nicklas Bendtner. Long would also give the option of a counter-attacking striker. This is something that the paceless Giroud can never offer.
Today against Cardiff, Arsenal struggled to create any real clear-cut chances. The Bluebirds packed center midfield and made the middle of the pitch a battle ground. When the Gunners did suck their defense in they lacked the pace to break onto through-balls.
The one time they did actually break through, Giroud inexplicably pulled up thinking he was offside.
Long is a viable option for the Gunners because of his differing style to Giroud. He would also give the option of being a foil for the Frenchman should Wenger ever play two up front.
The Irish Independent reports that Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur alongside Everton, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Aston Villa and Southampton are all monitoring the Irishman's availability.
With Arsenal's season now threatening to have silverware at the end of the tunnel, Arsene Wenger could do far worse than to buy the bargain-priced Long from West Brom in January.